Ipswich club's quality, depth shines in weekend reward
HOCKEY: Even experienced coaches like Brent Nicholls have to play an overnight waiting game when two A-Grade games are played so close together.
However, his talented Wests squad stood up to their latest challenge, winning both weekend matches including the Combined Competition final in Toowoomba.
Beating Toowoomba opponents Newtown 5-0 early Sunday afternoon was the third year in a row Wests clinched the intercity title.
That pleasing result came after Wests accounted for Swifts by the same scoreline in Saturday night's match at Raceview.
With Ipswich competition finals starting on September 1, Nicholls was particularly proud of how well the Magpies handled the twin test.
"We never really knew how we were going to pull up,'' Nicholls said. "So to get through that unscathed, no injuries, and come away with a 5-0 win was still very pleasing.
"I felt like we were in control of the game the whole time.''
Apart from the quality in this year's A-Grade side, Nicholls attributed the latest final victory to the club's depth.
With Wests also having two Reserve Grade teams this season, the master coach had plenty of talent to draw upon.
"We've got a fairly large squad so we rotated a lot of players around on the Saturday night, tried to keep as many legs as we can for the Sunday,'' he said. "Then we rotated again on the Sunday.
"As a squad as a whole, it worked quite well.''
The Wests A-Grade side are set to finish in top spot for the Ipswich finals, keen to successfully defend the premiership they won over Hancocks last season.
The club's Reserve Grade sides are also well positioned in the top three with a round to go.
"It's a real credit to the people that have worked with a lot of juniors coming through,'' Nicholls said.
The Wests coach was delighted to see five different goal scorers across the two A-Grade games.
Amy Kickbusch and Eden Jackat are regular goal-getters with Jade Close, Amy Nicholls and Emma Picton also finding the net. Striker Picton scored her first A-Grade goal in Saturday night's match.
"For us, we do have some good strikers but in order to be more dangerous we need to be able to score from anyone on the field,'' the coach said.
In the men's Combined Competition final also played on Sunday afternoon in Toowoomba, Hancock Brothers went down 3-2 to Red Lion.
That followed Hancocks' 2-0 win over Norths in Friday night's encounter in the Ipswich competition.
With the Combined Competition complete for another season, teams can focus on the last round of Ipswich games before the annual playoffs.
Junior grand final day is on September 8 with the senior title deciders on September 14 and 15 at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.
A-Grade men: Hancock Brothers 2 (Z Hoyland-Meaker, C Chappell) d Norths 0; Wests 3 (T Dakin, G Walker, A Horrocks) d Easts 0.
Combined Competition final: Red Lion 3 d Hancock Brothers 2.
A-Grade women: Hancock Brothers 4 (K McNamara, S Rogers, R Clarke, L Eleison) d Norths 1 (J Chaplin); Wests 5 (E Jackat 2, A Kickbusch, J Close, E Picton) d Swifts 0.
Combined Competition final: Wests 5 (A Kickbusch 2, A Nicholls, J Close, E Jackat) d Newtown 0.